Thursday, April 3, 2014

BLIND SPOT DETECTION MADE EASY

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) just announced that all new light vehicles must have rear view visibility systems by 2018.  Of course this means the price of a new vehicle just went up again.  Certainly required blind spot detection is soon to follow.  I remember when I was teaching my teenage sons to drive, I was always uncomfortable with them glancing over their shoulders to check for traffic in the “blind spot”.  But that’s what their driving education taught, so what right did I have to contradict them.  Still, how is it a good idea for the driver to take their eyes off the road in front of them?  Despite the cost, maybe electronic blind spot protection is a good idea?  Not necessarily.   

Actually, we have blind spot detection in our cars right now and we probably didn’t even know it.  The best part is that it doesn’t cost us a penny more. 


While buying a new car with yet another electronic device that could potentially need repair is not at the top of my list, I did test drive a new Toyota Avalon recently with blind spot detection and thought it was really cool.  An amber icon flashed in either of the side mirrors when a passing car was detected.  It certainly was cool, but is it really necessary?  Not according to the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE).  They advise that the perfect solution to blind spot detection is as simple as adjusting both the left and right side view mirrors out from the car’s body, losing sight of the car as a reference and covering the void of the blind spots.  


A recent article in Car & Driver caught my eye and summed up the issue nicely: 


It’s so simple, it’s stupid!  Angle the side mirrors out away from the car until they just barely overlap the vision seen by the rear view mirror.  This past weekend I took a 500 mile road trip, so I gave the idea a try.  Like most other drivers, initially I was uncomfortable without seeing my car as a reference, but the more I drove, the more it made perfect sense.  I passed the hours by experimenting with both side mirrors, fine tuning their positioning to optimize coverage of the blind spots.  A car is in my rear view mirror.  As the car begins to pass, it’s in plain sight both in the rear view and the side mirror.  Just as the passing car leaves my side mirror, I see it for real in my peripheral vision.  Each stage of this coverage overlaps nicely.  No gaps in seeing the passing car, no blind spots.  I now have perfect 360 degree vision around my car. 

I don’t need blind spot detection and neither do you.  We’ve had it free for years.  Once you get by the slight learning curve of not seeing your car as a reference, you’ll love it.  There’s no going back for me, no more driving blind.  It’s blind spot detection made easy.     

Check out these links for more information:
 



Wednesday, February 12, 2014

BACK-UP CAMERA: How did I survive without it?

“How did I survive without it?”  That’s a question that I now ask daily.  A smart car buyer doesn’t just dive into a purchase.  Hours and days of research are required to ensure that you not only pick the right car, but that you are sure that it has the right options.  I have found that it’s actually a good idea to buy more than you think that you need (or want), so that you grow into the car, providing years of happy motoring. Before the recent purchase of my new Toyota, I spent months researching and assessing both myself, and the myriad of vehicle choices and their options.  As I mulled over what I wanted, as compared to what I needed, I decided that there was one item that was mandatory for me: I must have a back-up camera. 
 

According to Edmunds.com, through USA TODAY, “A majority of 2013 model cars and light trucks -- 53% -- have a standard backup camera, and 79% have one available, standard or as an option.”  Although temporarily stalled in governmental red tape, back-up warning systems may soon be required on all vehicles.  I know that with every car that I’ve owned, it’s been a challenge to see behind.  Whether backing or parking, maneuvering safely has always included guess work and luck.  Now, with the available technology of an affordable camera in a car, the guesswork is gone making backing much safer. 

I love my back-up camera.  How did we survive without it?  


As a regular user, I have found the following:

PROS:   
1) The driver can safely see if someone or something is directly behind the car.

2) You now know when to stop before impact.

CONS:   
1) The camera’s vision is impaired by reflections, either from daytime sun or lights at night.

2) Moisture and road debris can fog or fully obscure the image.

3) The image distorts the perception of depth, making the use of the reference guide bars essential.  
Blue = 3 feet, Red = 1.5 feet.


For me, the pros of safety easily out weigh the cons.  I find that I don’t use the camera for positioning the car.  For that, I still rely on the rear view and side mirrors.  But the back-up camera is essential for seeing obstacles behind the car and it provides a fool proof guide of when to stop.  How did I survive without it? 



   


Tuesday, February 4, 2014

maineautomall.com On-the-Air



As you know, maineautomall.com lists all types of cars and trucks for every type of buyer.  Male, female, young or old, maineautomall.com has your next ride.  We’ve been having a little fun lately exploring some of the types of people using the website, through television commercials.

Here are the latest:

Computer Dating:

Video Game:

4 Wheeling:

OLD Matt:



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Thursday, February 14, 2013

COMEDIANS IN CARS GETTING COFFEE


If you are reading this, you like cars. You didn’t just come to maineautomall.com to buy a car; you took the extra step to see what was up with this blog, to see what’s up with cars. I like cars, too. I have always been intrigued by the mechanics of the automobile, but mostly I just love the feel and freedom of cruising down the open road; the sensual experience of man and machine.

I am envious of celebrities who have the resources to buy and drive whatever they want. I’m not talking about those that buy status symbols, but those that truly know and love what they drive. I am especially jealous of people like comedians Jay Leno and Jerry Seinfeld. They are not driving to be seen, they buy and drive for the pleasure of the vehicle. If I had their resources I would do exactly the same thing.

Seinfeld in known for his fleet of Porches: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jerry_Seinfeld#Car_collection

Leno owns and drives a little of everything: http://www.jaylenosgarage.com/

Whether or not you like Seinfeld or Leno as comedians, you have to love their cars. I happen to like both comedians, and I love Seinfeld’s new internet show, COMEDIANS IN CARS GETTING COFFEE.


So basic a concept: pool together comedy, cars and conversation, and capture them on video. It’s Seinfeld and funny guys like Ricky Gervais (my favorite segment), Carl Reiner w/ Mel Brooks (enlightening) and Larry David (clever), driving all over New York City and Los Angeles, stopping to eat and drink coffee. Each episode is unique in location, guest and car. While the humor is entertaining, the real attraction to me is the cars themselves. You get to drive along with Jerry in a different car for each show.

Check out the line-up:
1952 VW BUG, 1960 ROLLS ROYCE SILVER CLOUD, 1962 VW BUS, 1963 VW KARMANN GHIA, 1966 PORCHE DUTCH POLICE CAR, 1967 AUSTIN HEALEY 3000, 1970 MERCEDES 300SEL, 1970 DODGE CHALLENGER TA, 1970 MERCEDES 280 SL, 1976 TRIUMPH TR6.










It’s not just a car nut like me watching these 10 cars, I mean episodes, it’s successful enough for Sony to order another 24 new shows. That means 24 new cars. Not only is the show funny, but it’s a great way to tour through the various neighborhoods of NY & LA, in cars that you will never get to drive on your own. Live vicariously through Seinfeld, and enjoy the ride.
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Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Winter Driving


If there are any doubts as to the hazards of winter driving, follow this link:

http://www.autoblog.com/2012/01/24/why-are-snowy-roads-like-these-never-closed/#continued

You've seen clips on NBC and the Weather Channel, but this tells the whole story. Four wheel drive and snow treads mean nothing when ice is involved. Stay safe, stay home!

Happy Motoring!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

TUMBLING DICE

I know, I know, you’re here to read about cars; but sometimes we need to drift from the hardware, to the habits. People express themselves through their vehicles. Stereotypes abound: rednecks drive pick-ups, blondes cruise in convertibles, and soccer moms haul it all in the mini-van. Drivers can be who they want to be through their wheels. To each their own! However, there is one area that I just plain do not understand. What’s up with the dangling debris hanging from rear view mirrors?

My exhaustive research has turned up everything from the traditional air fresheners, to the clich├ęd tumbling dice. The list includes prayer beads and Mardi Gras beads, St. Christopher medals, Hawaiian leis, security badges, graduation tassels, plastic skulls, key chains of all shapes and sizes, good luck rabbit’s feet, and even a wayward G-string (no kidding).

In my case, I have no choice. My work requires that I display a parking tag from my mirror. It’s small, tight to the mirror’s stem, but it’s there nevertheless. In my defense, at least it’s not hitting me in the face every time the car makes a move.

Honestly, don’t the dangling distractions drive their owners crazy? Isn’t it annoying to take a mouthful of Mardi Gras beads at every turn? The rattling noise alone would aggravate me. Isn’t it dangerous to have your attention diverted by a dangling rabbit’s foot, especially if it pokes you in the eye? Rolling dice obscures the driver’s visibility and could be illegal. What you choose to dangle could also be embarrassing. Think about it, how do you explain to the police officer that you caused an accident because you were distracted by a G-string?

I’m all for freedom of expression, as long as you drive safely while you do it. Consider demonstrating your personality through your Mini, your Maxima, or the color that you choose for your car, instead of dangling debris. It might make the roads a whole lot safer.

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Friday, April 29, 2011

BAD MANNERS, BAD HABITS, ANNOYING DRIVERS

Have you noticed how good manners are hard to find these days? With the kinetic pace of this electronic age, there seems to be little time, patience or interest in basic niceties. The “Please” and “Thank You” that were so ingrained growing up just aren’t there anymore. Maybe I’m being overly sensitive, but this callous disregard for common courtesies annoys me, especially when it comes to drivers’ habits.

Rarely does a day go by that I don’t witness a rude move by another driver. A little thing like a car cutting in front of me without using a turn signal is annoying to me. It’s a seemingly minor thing, but it’s discourteous and potentially dangerous. What’s so hard about placing a finger on the stalk and engaging a turn signal for a few quick flashes? Is the other driver too busy talking on his cell phone or texting to drive properly?

It doesn’t take long to make a list. Here’s what I’ve seen just recently:

- I am already driving 5 mph over the speed limit, and someone feels they have to tailgate behind me because I’m just not going fast enough. Pass me, or leave me alone.

- There is the driver that knows there is a red light ahead. They either feel that they have to tailgate, or worse yet, they floor it to pass me, then cut me off and slam on their brakes, stopping just in time for the red light. These are the same drivers that have to pass, and then cut in to make an immediate turn. They just can’t wait a few seconds.

- If someone in front of me is going too slow, I turn on my turn signal to begin to pass, and they speed up to prevent it. It’s not a race!

- What about the driver that stays in the passing lane, with his right hand turn signal permanently left flashing, but never returns to the travel lane? It’s illegal and unsafe for me to pass on the right, but what choice do I have? If anything happens, I’m to blame.


- I find the driver with the hand on the horn aggravating. It’s unnecessary to
blow the horn for every move; when making a turn, rounding a bend or whenever another car is in sight. It’s jarring and rude to other drivers.

- Then there is the uncaring shopper in the parking lot of the grocery store.
Don’t place your bags on my car while you open your door, don’t rest your shopping cart against my door, and don’t use my car’s door as a door stop as you swing yours open. It’s selfish and inconsiderate, not to mention that it’s downright destructive.

This is just a partial list, I’m sure that you have your own. There’s no need to be rude behind the wheel. A little courtesy while driving makes the highways a more pleasant place, not to mention a much safer place to travel. Please and thank you!

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